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  • Local historians in bid to block solar farm plan

    Henry James

    PLANS to build a solar energy farm installation on 10 acres of land at Lathom have been met by opposition from people who believe the site was used to bury horses which had been used in the First World War.

    Earlier this year the Champion reported on Lightsource BP and NSG’s proposals for the solar installation at Lord’s Cottage, Hall Lane, which was part of Lancashire’s Lathom Park estate, and a place where more than 200,000 horses were trained for service in the 1914-18 war.

    Paul Kenyon, local historian and chairman of Lathom Park Trust, said: “If the horses used in the First World War are buried there, these proposals are a disgrace.

    “This land has never been ploughed and has been left to pasture over the years as a mark of respect.”

    It is thought that several hundred horses are buried at the location.

    Fellow local historian, Dorothy Hawkes, added: “I have spoken to farmers whose families have farmed in the area for two and three generations who remember being told that First World War horses were buried in this location. We plan to find as many people who have been told the same thing.

    “The men who looked after those horses could have made money from the animals by sending them to the knacker’s yard, but decided to bury them near where they trained.

    “The land has also never been ploughed.

    “We don’t object to the solar panel proposals but feel that the panels could be installed on nearby NSG land and not here.”

    The majority of the proposed solar installation will be erected on 10 acres of land just to the south of the centre, with a smaller installation within the NSG Group’s grounds.

    The proposed solar installation has an output power capacity of 2.5MWp (Megawatts-Peak) - enough clean solar energy to power the equivalent of 720 homes. If approved this will provide approximately 30% of the centre’s annual electricity demand.

    Horses and mules were a vital part of the First World War effort and Lathom Park hosted and trained more than 200,000 before they carried out their service, sometimes at the war front in France.

    A Lightsource BP spokesperson said: “We appreciate the important heritage of Lathom House and the use of its grounds as a remount station during World War One. Our heritage experts have undertaken a geophysical survey, which shows remains of stables where live horses would have been kept and an exercise track, but found no evidence of horse burials within the proposed development site.

    “We undertook a rigorous selection process to identify a suitable area for the solar panels, including a review of the rooftops and grounds of the Technical Centre. The roofs are not feasible for solar panels due to shading from existing plant and machinery, and because many of the roofs will need to be replaced within the lifespan of the panels.

    “We have been sharing plans for the site with the local community through public events and leaflets and have been hugely encouraged by the positive response. The vast majority of the feedback has been supportive of our proposal, which would generate enough clean solar energy to meet 30% of the electricity needs of the Technical Centre, an important local employer.”

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